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Featuring Nina Ansary on July 14, 2015

  1. Nina Ansary introduces Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran
  2. delicate Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran -
  3. Acknowledgements

Nina Ansary: Yes, Nasrin Sotoudeh, the attorney. She is a phenomenal lady. Sam Razi: You occasionally see on Twitter, postings where she's standing in front of I think the bar association in Iran, protesting the fact that they're not actually giving her a license to practice. Why do you think someone like Nasrin Sotoudeh is released-and she was released very close to the time of the current President Rouhani being elected-versus others still being held for lack of any objective reason, that are in the same sort of space.

Why is she allowed to be free and to protest now. Nina Ansary: This is a difficult question to navigate because one never really knows the underlying ulterior motive behind the current regime. What is indisputable is the fact that Nasrin Sotoudeh is a high profile individual who is a highly respected lawyer. These are some the factors that may have been taken into consideration. And as you allude, one should not discount the possibility that this may have also been a strategic motion on the part of the regime. Sam Razi: So part of the reason why I ask the question is because it seems like women in Iran, like the ones you've mentioned, are testing those very boundaries.

It seems there isn't always a clear definition as to what is allowed, what's not allowed.

Nina Ansary introduces Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran

They're testing the boundaries either by their direct boldness or by indirectly stating something that challenges a taboo, or that steps across what would be conceived of as a red line even a few years ago and they're moving things forward? Nina Ansary: I believe what is most remarkable about women in Iran is their fearlessness and their ongoing activism, despite the repercussions. Perhaps one of the boldest acts has been the reinterpretation of verses in the Koran used by the conservative establishment to justify the inferior position of women.

In many ways highlighting the ambiguity of these passages shows that religion is able to evolve. This ideological leap of faith also allows the religious woman to maintain her religiosity while finding liberation from within the text itself.

Sam Razi: Are you aware of any cases within the judiciary where a law that is cut and dry, or the interpretation of it is cut and dry, and has been adjusted? Nina Ansary: Over the years women's activism has yielded partial gains. For example, in , the inheritance laws were amended, giving women the right to inherit their husband's property. Women were also granted the right to equal blood money, but only in accidents covered by insurance companies.

Parliament also prevented the passage of laws enabling men to take additional wives without the consent of the first wife.

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Sam Razi: It still seems that even though these steps are being taken that there is such a long way to go, just to get back the rights that women had prior to the revolution. Nina Ansary: I believe that this will continue to be an uphill battle as long as church and State continue to be intertwined.

Iran's hijab history

This is why the Pahlavi era brought much needed relief as this "marriage" was momentarily interrupted. Sam Razi: That's where it goes back to the beginning of our talk where you talked about how the women's movement is actually tied to so much history which goes back hundred and even thousands of years. Nina Ansary: That is correct. There is an ebb and flow of contradictory trends in the history of Iran that vacillates between pockets of liberal and restrictive trends.

Sam Razi: Back to your back, tell me about the title and the cover art, because it's actually very striking and quite provocative. Nina Ansary: This book is based on my doctoral thesis written for Columbia University in I have re-written this manuscript is solely an homage to the Iranian woman who has struggled for centuries and continues to struggle against a discriminatory and irrational gender ideology imposed and justified by hardline conservative factions as the will of "Allah" God in the Muslim world.

The title is meant to convey that women, who have been ordained as inferior, are in fact the jewels of the Creator. The cover is a painting by an Iranian gentleman who was born in Ahwaz, Iran in His name is Morteza Pourhosseini. He uses the canvas as a form of soft protest to showcase the oppression of women in the Islamic Republic.

I explain the significance of this portrait in the book. Sam Razi: And you bring up an interesting point. What are men doing inside of Iran? And don't limit it to just inside of Iran, but outside of Iran as well, in the expatriate community. What are men doing either directly or indirectly with respect to the women's movement. Nina Ansary: Without a doubt, when you look at the overall picture, even among some of the most progressive nations, a crucial ingredient for women achieving full equality centers on the support of men.

With respect to the women's movement in post-revolutionary Iran there have been many men both religious as well as secular men contributing to women's ongoing struggle. I talk about some of these men extensively in the book. Sam Razi: Dr. Ansary, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Nina Ansary: Thank you very much Sam. It's always a pleasure talking to you, and I look forward to having many more conversations with you.

Sam Razi: Thank you, and likewise. I asked Nina to provide just a few names of prominent women who she considers "gems" of Iran's Women's Movement. Simin Behbahani 20 June - 19 August Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani is a notable Iranian journalist, women's rights activist and community activist.

delicate Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran -

She is one of the founding members of the One Million Signatures campaign. Watch quick explainer video. X Request Invitation Submit. Feedback Subject. Your Message. Sam Razi. Founder of Pressimus. They wore miniskirts on university campuses. Then came the Islamic Revolution in , with Ayatollah Khomeini at the helm.


The burgeoning freedoms for women were extinguished. The veil was required and institutions were segregated by gender. The Islamic Republic had thus achieved its goal of resurrecting the image of the traditional Muslim woman. The problem with popular narratives is that, despite their convenient half-truths, the real story is more complicated, unexpected, and less tidy. Inspired by author Nina Ansary's scholarly journey, Jewels of Allah is a provocative roller coaster ride that shatters the stereotypical assumptions and the often misunderstood story of women in Iran today.

Highlighting many courageous female leaders and advocates throughout Iran's history, the book illuminates the unanticipated consequences of the Islamic Revolution and the unexpected twists and turns leading to a full-blown feminist movement within a post-revolutionary patriarchal society. Jewels of Allah is dedicated to every individual oppressed by discriminatory ideology.

Nina Ansary expertly reveals largely untold stories of the multifaceted women of Iran and their perseverance to overcome considerable obstacles. Her Jewels of Allah is brave, authentic and riveting. What a compelling example of why women NEED to tell their stories. Read this.

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So when we heard about Dr. Based out of Los Angeles, Dr.

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She was originally born in Tehran, and fled the country with her family in when the Islamic Revolution began and she has not returned. She has spent the majority of her career promoting the accomplishments of Iranian women which has made her an authoritative voice on the subject in the media, in academic circles and online. Nina shared an exclusive extract of the book before it was released with Women In The World and talks about how before the Revolution, women were on an upward trajectory under the leadership of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, but when the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, took over, the freedoms women were starting to experience including the right to vote and wear modern Western clothing soon was extinguished.

It is the reason many families fled the country in search for a life away from restriction and oppression, as one of our previous bloggers and Iranian native Sahar Pazirandeh has previously shared on our site. But despite the common narratives of women being oppressed that often dictate media headlines when it comes to Iran and many other countries around the Middle East , Dr Nina says there is so much more to be explored than a singular story, which is where Jewels of Allah comes in. In an interview with Middle East Eye she says there are so many more complex stories and narratives that deserve to be shared.